Many travellers arrive in Cusco as a stopping point before heading out to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu either by trekking the Inca Trail or catching the train which leaves from Cusco. As well as being a gate way to the Inca trail and Machu Picchu, Cusco is an amazing place to visit and there are many great things to see and experience as you walk around this city.
The city of Cusco is located at an elevation of just over 3300 metres above sea level and is a city of contrasts where the western world meets the ancient and indigenous world. This city is sometimes referred to as the ‘Archaeological Capital of the America’s’ and has much to offer the visiting traveller. Before you start your sightseeing in Cusco make sure that you buy yourself a tourist ticket as this will guarantee admission to many of the popular tourist places in the city of Cusco.
Many people start their sightseeing in the centre of Cusco in The Plaza de Armas which is the main square and is used as a place for ceremonies and military parades. The Plaza was once surrounded by Inca palaces and the remains of the Inca Pachacutec’s palace can still be seen along the north west side of the square. This area now contains a variety of restaurants and cafes and is a great place to sit and have a coffee.
Overlooking the Plaza de Armas is the Cusco Cathedral which was built in the 1500s on the foundation of the Inca Viracocha’s palace. The church was built in the shape of a Latin cross and is supported by only fourteen massive pillars. Visitors to the church can marvel at the paintings and architecture however the history and legends surrounding this church are also worth the visit.
Qoricancha or the Inca Temple of the Sun is another of the great tourist destinations in Cusco. The Temple of the sun was constructed with the finest Inca Stone work and was originally detailed in gold and other riches which unfortunately was taken by the visiting conquistadors who melted down the gold destroying these Inca treasures. In the 17th century the Santo Domingo Church was built over the site of the temple however there is still remnants of the original temple stone work at the site.
There are many other great places to visit in the city of Cusco so if you are planning a visit to this part of Peru make sure that you give yourself a few days to experience everything this city has to offer.